2 months ago

Roby: Congress and the administration are fighting human trafficking

In the spirit of welcoming a new year, I have recently spent time reflecting upon the many positive developments we experienced in our district, state, and country in 2018. Unemployment is historically low, our economy is booming, and hardworking Americans are getting to keep more of the money they earn thanks to our tax reform overhaul.

2018 brought many accomplishments that we should absolutely celebrate, but last year also included a devastating statistic that we cannot ignore: In the United States, more than 8,500 human trafficking cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) in the last 12 months alone. According to the NHTH, for the first half of 2018, there were 36 human trafficking cases reported in Alabama. There are nearly 25 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, and until this number is zero, we have work to do.

This problem is out of control, and I am glad to report that President Trump has designated the month of January 2019 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In recent weeks, he has signed into law four bills that demonstrate our commitment to ending human trafficking and bringing these criminals to justice. Most recently, the President signed S. 1862, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which tightens criteria for whether countries are meeting standards for eliminating trafficking.

Last month, President Trump signed into law the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, which strengthens programs supporting survivors and increases resources for combatting this modern-day form of slavery. Here in Alabama, there are several organizations that provide shelter, transitional housing, and other services to individuals who have been trafficked. You can visit here to learn more about these critical resources available to survivors in our state.

The president also recently signed the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act. This legislation authorizes $430 million to fight sex and labor trafficking.

Finally, President Trump signed into law S. 1312, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, to establish new prevention, prosecution, and collaboration initiatives to bring human traffickers to justice swiftly. It is imperative that we hold these criminals responsible for their heinous crimes, and I am proud of this measure to do so.

Human trafficking is plaguing our country, but the underground nature of the problem often makes it difficult for authorities to estimate the full scale of its impact. Still, it happens in our communities every single day in plain sight, and it is our responsibility to tackle the issue head-on. It is especially important that we act quickly when we see these crimes occur. If at any point you have information or believe you see something questionable, immediately call the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation at 334-242-1142, or file a report online. The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached by calling 1-888-373-7888.

It’s hard to grasp the severity of a problem that often goes unseen, and it is especially difficult to combat it. That’s why I am very grateful that Congress and the Trump Administration are working together to make real strides towards addressing this crisis. We must continue to make it crystal clear that this horrendous form of modern-day slavery has no place in the United States and that we are committed to fighting it every step of the way.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.

2 hours ago

Del Marsh files bill to give immunity for saving animals from hot car deaths

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) announced Tuesday that he has filed a bill that would give immunity to any person in Alabama who rescues an animal from a car if they believe that the life of that animal is at risk.

“This is a simple bill, but one that is critical especially as the weather begins to warm up here in Alabama,” Marsh said in a statement. “As I travel around my district and even across the state, I have heard from many people that this is an issue that is very important to them.”

If enacted, this bill, SB61, would only allow for immunity from prosecution if a person believes the life of the animal in a hot car is in danger and breaks into the car to rescue them. Before attempting the rescue, a person must contact police or animal control to inform them of the situation and remain at the scene until authorities arrive to investigate.

“This bill is to protect people who are doing the right thing and trying to rescue an animal whose life is in danger,” Marsh added.

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The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

RELATED: Marsh’s bill to help build Trump’s wall receives committee approval

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

16 hours ago

Del Marsh moves to end Common Core in Alabama

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) filed a bill Tuesday that would repeal Common Core in the Yellowhammer State.

In a video, Marsh explained his bold move, which had not been anticipated by state political observers.

He said the bill would “eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama.”

Marsh said, “In the past, I have let our [state] school board, who dictates education policy, have Common Core in place. But after ten years, the state of Alabama is 49th in math and 46th in reading. We can’t keep going in that direction. So today, I will introduce this bill and ask my colleagues to support it so we can eliminate Common Core and start a new direction for education in the state of Alabama.”

Watch:

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Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

16 hours ago

Poarch Band of Creek Indians: McClendon lottery not ‘clean’

MONTGOMERY — After State Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) Tuesday morning announced he was filing legislation to implement a lottery in Alabama, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI) advised that they do not view the proposal as a “clean lottery.”

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In a statement to Yellowhammer News, the PCI’s division of governmental and public affairs outlined that they would support a “clean lottery bill,” but believe McClendon’s proposal would rob the people of Alabama of being able to properly vote on the lottery.

“We appreciate Sen. McClendon’s efforts to bring the question of whether the state should have a lottery to the forefront of this legislative session. However, the bill introduced today does not fit the definition of a ‘clean’ bill,” the PCI statement said. “It does not give citizens an opportunity to cast one vote on one issue — whether we should have a traditional lottery in our State. Instead, the bill is cluttered with provisions that will expand private gaming operations in a few parts of the state owned by a handful of individuals. It also demands that any vote on a lottery include a vote on video lottery terminals, which are also commonly known as ‘slot machines.'”

“We continue to support a truly ‘clean’ lottery bill that gives the citizens of Alabama the opportunity to decide a single issue — whether or not to have a lottery — by casting a single vote. The bill that was introduced today is not that,” the statement concluded.

PCI Tribal Chair Stephanie Bryan recently penned an op-ed advocating that the people of Alabama should be allowed to vote on a lottery-only proposal.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

17 hours ago

Internet rebellion against Rebuild Alabama runs out of gas

If you are a consumer of social media, talk radio or the Internet in general, you probably have seen the anger the Rebuild Alabama gas tax increase stirred among your friends.

Claims that voters will remember this gas tax increase in 2020 may be true, but the politicians who voted “yes” are banking on two things: short memories and apathy.

As mentioned above, the next election cycle doesn’t kick off in earnest for almost three years, which is a long time in an era with a President Donald Trump re-election campaign sucking up all the air in the room and filling up your Uncle’s Facebook feed.

The apathy part is already in play. Sure, it’s easy to be mad, but what about action to “right the wrong?” That seems harder.

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Failed candidate for Alabama State House and businessman Tom Fredricks has launched a GoFundMe account to challenge the law’s Port of Mobile provision and to say that it is not working is an understatement.

This is important because the campaign has received tens of thousands of views, thousands of likes, engagements, retweets, favorites, comments and shares, but that has not translated into a financial success.

If supportive Internet comments had any financial value, this would be a different story.

But, alas, supportive Internet posts have no value and while the goal of the account is $100,000 dollars, as of the writing of this article, it has raised a grand total of $1,000.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

18 hours ago

Court: Alabama can’t keep its lethal injection method secret

A federal appeals court sided with news media organizations Monday in ruling that Alabama cannot keep its lethal injection protocol secret from the public.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rejected Alabama’s argument that its execution method is not a court record and thus should remain secret.

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“Judicial records provide grounds upon which a court relies in deciding cases, and thus the public has a valid interest in accessing these records to ensure the continued integrity and transparency of our governmental and judicial offices,” the court stated in its ruling.

At issue is what the court described as the botched execution of Doyle Hamm on Feb. 22, 2018.

The court said that after several failed attempts to insert a needle into his veins, the execution was called off as midnight approached.

The Associated Press and other news outlets then sought the state’s execution protocol and related records.

“Alabama is the most secretive state in the country with respect to its protocol,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

“The intense secrecy has obvious problems,” he said. “The Doyle Hamm case is one classic example of that because the difficulties in finding a vein all happen out of the view of the public.”

Representatives of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday’s decision, so it was not known whether they would appeal.

Alabama could ask the appeals court for reconsideration of the case, or appeal to the United States Supreme Court, Dunham said.

The state also could ask for a stay of Monday’s ruling as appeals play out, he said.

Monday’s decision upheld a federal judge’s ruling last year that the public has “a common law right of access” to the records.

In that May 2018 ruling, U.S. Judge Karon Bowdre decided that some information can remain secret in the interest of security, such as the names of low-level prison employees involved in executions.

Last year’s ruling found that the execution protocol and related records “clearly concern a matter of great public concern, i.e., how Alabama carries out its executions,” the appeals court wrote in Monday’s ruling.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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